Friday, June 12, 2020

You Gotta be in the Fight

A defect of liberalism is the belief that all disagreements among people can be worked out through increased knowledge, debate and discussion.

We teach our children this. Jesus told us to turn the other cheek, to love our enemies.

Some would postulate that this point of view is a means to keep an oppressed class of people from overthrowing their oppressors. Others would point to Jesus overthrowing the money-changers tables in the temple to show that he wasn't teaching people passive acceptance of the status-quo.

Adam Gopnik makes this statement about J.S. Mill, an important figure in the development of liberalism -
Mill’s theory of freedom does make an unwarranted assumption—that people want a rich life where knowledge increases, new discoveries are made, and new ideas found, where art flourishes and science advances. If you don’t want that kind of society, you don’t want liberty, in Mill’s sense. Part of what makes him as touching as he is great is that it scarcely occurred to him that anyone would not. 
Compare a liberal thinker like Mill with a fascist conservative thinker like Carl Schmitt and you'll begin to understand why liberalism is not in itself a vehicle for significant political change and why the far right ("conservative") ideology of fascism has resulted in drastic political change. Some "conservatives", some white-evangelical leaders, fascists, and the far-right understand that this is a battle between friends (the people on your side) and enemies (the people on the other side).

Carl Schmitt's "friend/enemy distinction" is why right-wing media, and all corporate media to some degree, is primarily interested in telling you who your enemies are.

The left has it's partisans as well but they are bounded by what their corporate sponsors will allow to be discussed or limited in their reach to niche publications, radio shows and podcasts.

Light may be seeping in through cracks in the total propaganda facade we are subject to in modern society. These cracks in the facade are a result of among other things - our current president, his party followers, the global pandemic, massive income inequality, a quickly deteriorating economy and the climate crisis.

Sometimes events overtake politics.

It's hard to blame poor people, Obama, Mexicans or black people for everything...but the propagandists will keep fiddling that tune while the nation (and the world) burns - because that's their job. When money buys power people with more money get more power (look at the criminal justice system or our tax laws for two glaring examples) until they have so much money and power that they are absolutely corrupt no matter how much their apologist ministers and talking heads on TV and radio may beg to differ

You need to figure out which side you are on but before doing that you need to know what the sides are.

At a gross level you can phrase the two sides in varying ways...

The haves or the have nots
Owners of capital or wage earners
Owners or workers
Powerful or powerless
1% or the 99%
Bourgeoisie or proletariat and the ever increasing precariat

If you accept that "politics" and "political movements" dirty and ugly, or fantastical and utopian, as they may be - are part of the human'll have less occasion for disappointment when you try to understand why we can't all just get along.

It's also good to know that the battle isn't between individuals but rather groups - nothing personal, just business and politics. Before you decide which side you are going to fight for it's good to know which team you belong to.

It would be good to make it clear that when I talk about battles and fights that I am speaking metaphorically and rhetorically. The people that control the police and military will win any real world battle and any unprovoked violence (or maybe even provoked violence depending on your point of view) will only aid the oppressors and harm those being oppressed.

The slickest trick in politics is to use propaganda, emotion and pervasive human ignorance to build and maintain political, economic and social structures that serve the minority at the expense of the majority.

Selling soap, snake oil, or political voodoo it's sadly much too easy to get a significant number of working class (mostly white) people to support whatever policies work for the owners and have faith (since proof is lacking) that whatever crumbs fall off the table will suffice to keep the workers from revolting (no matter how revolting you may find said workers when discussing worldly affairs at the country club).

We just want a fair deal. I'll pay my taxes you pay yours. I don't want my tax dollars used for stupid wars, a bloated military industrial complex or for other forms of corporate welfare. We want good public schools, good public medicine, and a good social safety net for those too sick, too under-educated or too old to fend for themselves. Most economically developed nations succeed at these things - the question you have to ask your self is why in the so-called richest country on earth are we doing so poorly for so many people?

Then you can decide which side your on.